Eidle leads Hersey past Fisher, Libertyville
All eyes were on two players during Thursday's game.
And both were easy to spot.
Libertyville's Emily Fisher and Hersey's Katy Eidle were the main draw in their first high school girls basketball matchup against each other.
Despite a lengthy friendship, Fisher and Eidle were unaccustomed to playing against each other. As teammates for the Wolverines AAU team for the past seven-plus seasons, Fisher and Eidle have grown up together playing on the same team.
They have each followed the same fast-rising trajectory path toward becoming two of the best players in the junior class in the state.
Both committed to a Big Ten school within a few weeks of each other, with Eidle committing to Michigan on Sept. 24 and Fisher announcing her pledge to Maryland on Oct. 18.
After providing a short preview guarding each other in a late June summer league game at Palatine, Fisher and Eidle delighted the crowd on Thursday with several awe-inspiring plays.
Eidle won the first of many battles between the two highly touted players, scoring a team-high 22 points to go with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in a 57-46 win in the Bison Classic in Arlington Heights.
Senior guard Val Allen chipped in with 12 points in the Huskies' victory.
"This was really fun, so coming back after playing in March was really incredible, especially playing my teammate, Emily," Eidle said. "It was a great atmosphere. It was kind of weird and aggravating playing against Emily. But going back and forth was fun, going against a teammate."
The 6-foot Fisher, a powerful, two-way impactful player, scored a game-high 23 points and added 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Senior teammate Kristina Kotzan added 9 points for the Wildcats.
"It was fun," Fisher said. "We texted before the game and talked about stuff. We were definitely talking with each other. It was fun playing against Hersey."
The Huskies (1-0) just had too much depth, height and firepower for the young Wildcats (0-1) to handle this soon in the season. The Huskies welcomed the return of junior guard Meghan Mrowicki. The junior guard did not play basketball last season to focus on soccer. She scored 9 points, including hitting an early second-quarter 3-pointer to pad the lead to 24-13. Mrowicki's best work, though, came on the defensive end. She relied on her athleticism, speed, strength and agility to make Fisher work for every point.
"It's always been hard guarding Emily, plus it was hard to get back in the swing of things because this was my first game in two years," Mrowicki said. "She's tough to guard. I focused on soccer last year, but I'm hoping to make a (college) decision in a few weeks for soccer. I decided to come back for basketball to play with my friends."
Hersey coach Mary Fendley has coached numerous talented players in her illustrious career, but she said Mrowicki's among the most versatile players.
"To take virtually two years off from playing and return to a varsity game and play at a high level is amazing," Fendley said. "She's so talented at soccer and basketball. She's so athletic and she knows the game. She's going to commit to a big-time soccer school, but she showed tonight she's the real deal in basketball."
The 5-11 Eidle flashed a few new elements to her game, showing off her added strength by attacking the basket with a fearless approach. She scored 11 of Hersey's first 21 points to put the game out of reach early in the first half.
"I had a lot of off time and I tried to lift more and get stronger and better in every aspect I can," Eidle said. "It's an adjustment being the only starter returner, but everybody contributed in their own way. It was a great start to the season."